A Michigan couple launched a lawsuit against American Airlines this week alleging that they were kicked off a flight earlier this year after an airline employee claimed that they smelled bad.

Yehuda Yosef Adler, Jennie Adler and their then-19-month-old daughter were removed from a Jan. 23, 2019, flight from Miami to Detroit by an American Airlines gate agent, who allegedly said he knew that people of their race and religion only took baths once a week, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday, USA Today reported. The Adlers are Orthodox Jews.

American Airlines said in a statement to The Hill that several passengers on the flight and crew members complained of a bad smell. The airline said the family was removed out of concern for other passengers.
"Our team members took care of the family and provided hotel accommodations and meals, and rebooked them on a flight to Detroit the next morning," the statement said. "None of the decisions made by our team in handling this sensitive situation were based on the Adler’s [sic] religion." 

Yehuda Adler claims in the lawsuit that he asked a stewardess on the flight for headphones after boarding the plane, saying that on his last flight he could ask for the device. The pilot allegedly snapped back, “I wasn’t on that plane and we don’t offer anything complimentary."  


Just minutes after sitting down, the family was told that there was an emergency and were asked to deplane. Later, they were informed that it was due to body odor at the direction of the pilot, USA Today reported.

The agent did not state which family member had the body odor at the time, according to the lawsuit. But the statement from the airline said passengers and crew commented on Yehuda Adler specifically.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Texas, where the airline is based, said the couple had showered the morning of the flight. 

“Plaintiffs were distraught and even though embarrassing, approached persons in the same area of the boarding gate asking them if they could detect unpleasant body odor from any of the Adler family and each and every person (more than 20 people) answered in the negative,” the lawsuit states.

The Adlers also claimed that the plane took off with the baby’s car seat, their stroller, diapers and other possessions, USA Today reported. Yehuda Adler wore a yarmulke and Jennie Adler wore a sheitel, a wig worn as a religious hair covering, and long skirt on the day of the flight, which they allege made them targets, according to the lawsuit.

They also claim that they have been defamed by American Airlines’ statements that they were removed due to smell. They have alleged that they have suffered emotional distress, damage to personal and professional reputations, loss of appetite, insomnia, and fear associated with airports and flying, the lawsuit claimed, the outlet reported.

“The Adlers are being pressured to see their race and religion as inferior to that of Whites, dirty and unwelcome,” according to the lawsuit. 

Updated at 9:27 a.m.